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Suddenlink Blames Netflix Contracts

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Suddenlink Communications is citing Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and its contracts with studios as the reason why the MSO is not offering Netflix's streaming video service in leased TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) Premiere DVR boxes that are debuting this week in the operator's Lubbock and Midland, Texas, systems. (See Suddenlink Boxes Up TiVo Deal .)

According to Suddenlink's list of TiVo features, "Netflix is currently prohibited – by some of their contracts with movie studios and other content producers – from making their service available on the TiVo devices offered by operators like Suddenlink. If Netflix is able to renegotiate its contracts and make its service available to cable operators like Suddenlink, we’ll certainly consider adding that service."

However, the MSO does claim that it's working to add access to over-the-top video and music services from Blockbuster Inc. , Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), and Rhapsody Networks , as well as the new subscription-based Hulu LLC Plus service, "in the months ahead."

Light Reading Cable has asked Netflix to confirm or clarify whether some of its studio contracts prevent it from offering its streaming video service to TiVo DVRs that are leased by MSOs.

But Suddenlink says it's open to adding Netflix, despite that some observers would be led to believe that the MSO would have some business incentives to keep Netflix out of the picture, because the TiVo Premiere boxes Suddenlink is offering in Texas are integrated with the MSO's own video-on-demand (VoD) service.

Suddenlink says that's not the case. "Regarding Netflix, as our online FAQ notes, we would gladly consider adding them, if they allow us," an MSO spokesman said via email in response to questions. The prohibition on access "is on Netflix's end of the equation… Clearly we have no standing in the negotiations of those contracts; they're entirely between Netflix and the content owners."

In the meantime, Suddenlink is clearly using TiVo to help the operator embrace Web-fed content. It's booting up its TiVo service with access to YouTube Inc. and Pandora Media Inc. , as well as apps from Twitter Inc. and Facebook , for example. It's tying all of that together with traditional video slate, including integrated search capabilities.

Suddenlink's offer also allows customers to manage their DVRs remotely and to use TiVoToGo, a feature that lets users transfer photos and movies from a PC to the TiVo box. Suddelink also has plans to offer a TiVo-powered multi-room option. (See TiVo Gearing Up for Multi-Room DVRs .)

Suddenlink is leasing broadband-conneted TiVo devices for $15 per month, the same it charges for its standard, generic HD-DVR boxes.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:15:49 PM
re: Suddenlink Blames Netflix Contracts

We'll have a follow up story that fleshes this out a bit , but Netflix confirmed that some of its contracts w/content providers do indeed prevent it from offering streaming on MSO-leased TiVo boxes. JB

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